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Second Half Heroics Propel Keystone over Port Allegany

PORT ALLEGANY, Pa. – Keystone was tested early and often but earned an “A”, as late second-half heroics propels the Panthers over the Gators 36-30 as they remain a perfect 2-0.

(Photo courtesy of Alize Sullenberger and Living Proof Productions)

It was all Port Allegany in the first quarter as the Gators jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.

At the 10:02 mark in the first quarter, Blaine Moses broke free into the Panther secondary and scampered 55 yards. After the failed two-point conversion the Gators held a 6-0 lead, but that would change just under the three-minute mark as they found paydirt once again.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Drew Evens tossed a 58-yard touchdown pass beating the Keystone secondary to put Port Allegany in command 14-0.

The Panthers answered on their first drive of the second quarter when Bret Wingard found Zander McHenry for a 17-yard touchdown pass, pulling Keystone back with one score after Wingard was able to punch in the two-point conversion.

Less than three minutes later it was Keystone’s Kyle Nellis who broke free up the middle racing 97 yards for his first score of the game. After the failed conversion, the Panthers and Gators found themselves all knotted up at 14 apiece.

Continuing to trade haymakers in the second half, it was Keystone that took the lead at the 10:34 mark when Wingard crossed the goal line on a 2-yard quarterback keeper.

Down six, Port Allegany’s Evens found Noah Archer alone in the secondary, making the easy pitch and catch as Archer scored his first receiving touchdown of the contest. The Gators overpowered the Panther’s front five as the two-point conversion put Keystone on the ropes 22-20.

Never giving Port Allegany the opportunity to build their lead, Keystone answered with a rushing touchdown of their own when Wingard dove forward for a one-yard touchdown.

With the score 28-22 in favor of Keystone heading into the fourth quarter, Port Allegany’s Archer found a crease and took another one to the house this time on a 52-yard run.

Looking to put together the best two-minute drill of the season head coach Ryan Smith never lost confidence that his team would prevail.

“Not much had gone our way in the fourth quarter,” said Smith. “But the guys found a way with a big play to Kyle Nellis.”

With 2 minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the game, Wingard found do it all utility player Kyle Nellis for an 85-yard pitch and catch that put the Panthers on top 30-28 after the two-point conversion.

Bret Wingard finished the night 6 of 15 for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding 19 yards rushing and 2 scores.

“These kids are resilient,” said Keystone head coach Ryan Smith. “They never give up. Down 14-0 they found a way to claw back.”

Kyle Nellis added 154 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, grabbing one pass, the most important pass, for 85 yards and a lone score.

Zander McHenry added three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown for the Panthers.

On the defensive side of the ball, McHenry finished with 7 tackles, 2 interceptions a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt to pace the Panther defense.

Keystone will now turn their attention to Brockway as they get set to host the Rovers at home.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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